Identifying acute stroke triggers

Better prediction of stroke through identifying acute stroke triggers

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

When Mrs Smith presents to hospital following her ischaemic stroke, we can tell her that her high BP, obesity, and history of smoking contributed to her stroke, but we cannot answer the question of ‘Why did this happen to me now?’. When talking to a person who has had a stroke, he or she will offer explanations for why it happened on that Tuesday, at that time, with common responses including that they were doing something strenuous or were feeling very stressed. There is reasonable evidence from small studies of varying quality that acute alcohol abuse and infection are acute risk factors of stroke, but the scientific reality is that we do not understand the acute triggers of stroke very well. This project aims to identify these acute risk factors to improve management and reduce the incidence of stroke.

The project will use a large, linked dataset including around 500,000 Tasmanians that used a pathology service between 2004 and 2020. Linkage to emergency department presentations, hospital admissions and deaths will be used to identify incident strokes during the time period. Comparison non-stroke incident events will also be identified such as for cardiac or respiratory diseases. The project will use statistical modelling working with big data to identify novel risk factors including health service contacts (e.g. hospitalisation presentations, pathology, antenatal services) among people later presenting with stroke compared to other non-stroke conditions.

This research will identify risk factors for acute stroke to inform a range of interventions, such as targeted GP referrals for people who are identified as being at high risk of stroke prior to discharge for a non-stroke admission. This PhD project is part of the Synergies to Prevent Stroke (STOPstroke) NHMRC Synergy Grant program, contributing to theme 1 around ‘Better prediction of those that will suffer stroke’.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Seana Gall


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience with statistical analysis
  • Experience with large datasets

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Seana Gall, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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